Options for Entry – A Look at the US Investment Programmes

 

For those looking to immigrate to the US, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the choices and various routes by which you can obtain entry. There are visa programmes to cover different circumstances and choosing the correct option is paramount to your likelihood of a successful application.

With a visa by investment programmes, you can obtain residency in the US by a financial contribution. This will allow you and your family to immigrate to the US, in some cases apply for a green card, which will then allow for a citizenship application in the future.

There are other options for businesses wishing to bring staff into the country that does not necessarily lead to permanent status but allow them to work in the US for sustained periods of time. Other mitigating factors for certain applications involve your current country of residence’s trade agreement with the US, your capital, business intentions and current country of residence or citizenship.

EB-5 Investment Programme

The EB-5 programme is the country’s most popular programme. Your investment will need to provide employment for ten America workers and will be passively placed into projects or developments. After five years, if the project was a success your money is returned. These types of investments are deemed ‘at at risk’, as the government wants these to be true investments with a chance of reward and risk of loss.

This programme provides green cards for you and your family and the option to apply for citizenship after 5 years of holding the green card should you fulfil the residency requirements of 2.5 out of 5 years of physical residency in the US.

There are two types of the EB-5 investment, the regional centre investment and the direct investor programme.

With the regional center investment, your capital needs to be invested in a new commercial enterprise that is associated with a regional center (an administrative body approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services – USCIS). The geographic areas for investment are chosen to promote economic growth and offer a $900,000 reduction in investment if it also falls in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA).

This programme dictates that the investment must come from proven sources, making the source of funds portion of the application most important.

The direct investment option gives you control of your money. This can be invested in your own business proposal. The business must employ ten people for a minimum of two years and again, if the investment is made within USCIS approved locations there is a discounted investment option.

The processing time for an EB-5 direct investment is roughly two years. To oversee your investment and enter the U.S. early, you can get an early entry by combining it with an E-2 visa application, which generally takes around six months.

E-2 Visa

For citizens of countries with an investment treaty in place with the US, it is possible to take the route of an E-2 visa. These applications are the quickest route into the US, although do not themselves offer permanent residency or a green card.

Granted for up to five years, the E-2 has varying levels of requirements for investment, determined by the industry in which you invest. These visas are commonplace for individuals who genuinely want to start and operate a business in the US. There is nothing to stop an EB-5 direct investor from gaining entry first through the E-2 programme, becoming both the sponsor and the applicant whilst waiting for their EB-5 to be processed.

L-1 Visa

An L-1 serves to bring in executives, directors or specialist knowledge employees of foreign-based companies, into the US for a period of up to seven years. The L-1 is also extended to business owners who wish to open branches, subsidiaries, or affiliates of their company abroad in the US. These visas are used by companies wishing to establish an office in the US.

The requirements are that the applicant has worked in a management position for one in the last three years, outside of the US for the same company. This can also include parent companies, subsidiaries, affiliate or branch offices of the company outside the US.

With the L-1 visa, there is no quota. Successful applicants will be granted a three-year stay, with the option to extend to seven. After seven years the L-1 visa holder must have another plan or option to stay in the US. Often the L-1 visa is succeeded by the plan to do an EB-1C and get a green card through that process after a couple of years rather than continuing on an L-1.